Individual differences in eating behaviors have been associated with obesity among young children. Food responsiveness tends to be positively associated with childhood obesity, satiety responsiveness tends to show a negative association, and the results for emotional overeating are mixed. Previous studies in this area, however, have generally employed cross-sectional designs. The purpose of the present study was to examine, in a sample of Hispanic children from families with low-income levels, the degree to which individual differences in child eating behaviors in the preschool years predicted changes in child weight into the early elementary school years. Parent/child dyads (n = 113) were seen on three separate occasions starting when the children were 4-years-old and ending when they were 8-years-old. Separate cross-lag panel analyses were conducted for food responsiveness, satiety responsiveness, and emotional overeating in examining the relationships between child eating behavior and child weight status over time. Consistent with previous cross-sectional studies, at all three time points, food responsiveness was positively associated with concurrent child weight status and satiety responsiveness showed a negative relationship. No concurrent relationship with child weight status was found for emotional overeating until the third time point when children were eight-years-old. Only two cross-lag associations between child eating behavior and child weight status were significant: emotional overeating and child weight status showed a bidirectional relationship between the second and third time points. Future longitudinal studies should examine these relationships in other populations.
Keywords: Child eating behaviors; Child eating self-regulation; Child weight status; Hispanic preschoolers.
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